Saturday, 29 December 2007

Another baby dies

It's almost exactly a year on from the last child/dog fatality and did society learn anything in that year? Obviously not, as we've got yet another tragedy. And who knows what Rottweiler Rescue are going to do as they've not had time to get over the last lot of knee jerk reaction - the abandonment and cruelty.
In case you've missed the news, on Friday, a one year old boy was killed by his grandparent's 'pet Rottweiler'.
Dig a bit deeper and the 'pet'
Rottie actually lived in the small yard. It had been acquired only six month's earlier as a two-year-old. Who knows what sort of life it had before.
And when we say 'Grandparents' - don't imagine the chap off the
Werther's Originals advert and his Mrs. We're talking about the parents of a teenage mother. So these grandparents are probably only in their thirties.
The baby was in the arms of a seven year old who had taken her little nephew outside to 'stroke the dog'. The only higher level of supervision was a sixteen year old
Aunty who was upstairs at the time. This sixteen year old girl was looking after a seven year old, a six year old and a one year old. Sounds a lot to put on a kid's shoulders to me.
The dog in the yard was experiencing it's first Christmas and all the routine changes that brings, the baby was another extra dimension.
I can't say I'm surprised that disaster of some kind struck. I'm just amazed more of the kids weren't hurt or killed.
If people are going to keep macho yard dogs how do they expect them to be discerning?
If any of you are parents - would you have ever left your one-year-old baby with a bunch of other kids and a caged wild dog?
Just the idea of a seven year old carrying a baby around unsupervised would be enough to give me nightmares.
I quote from the BBC version of this story...
"Without any warning, the dog snatched the baby from the youngster's arms and carried him into the yard."
So the baby killed by pub guard dogs last year and little Ellie dying at New Year at her grandmother's house weren't enough of a warning not to leave your children with relatives that have unsocialised, untrained dogs in the yard.
How can we stop people acquiring guard dogs that go on to kill their relatives?
Even if we banned every dog on the planet or had all their teeth extracted would these children ever really be safe from harm? Of course not!
I wonder how many other children died this Christmas from other less media-interesting causes - how many other kids were left in charge of babies?
There are already calls to change the Dangerous Dogs Act. It does need reform, but not as a knee jerk reaction. No amount of legislation is going to stop some people putting their kids in danger - be it letting them on the road to drive quad bikes at night, leaving them alone while the go out for a meal or leaving them pretty much unsupervised with wild dogs.
That poor little kid, what chance did he have? I am sure he was much loved and will be greatly missed, but how many lives have to be lost before people stop making the same mistake?
I missed my phone going off as I was out with the family shopping. It was The Independent on Sunday and they wanted 200 words on this issue. It was too late by the time I phoned them back. Perhaps it was just as well, as I expect my stance would upset the family.
What's your view? How can we stop this happening again?


woodysmum said...

Whilst I can see what your saying I'm afraid that until all the circumstances are known no judgement should be passed on why 3 young children were left with a 16 year old, we don't why they were left or for what period of time or for what reason. So I am reserving judgement. At the end of the day the dog was separated from the children and as we all know a seven year old can get up to all sorts, even if the parents/grandparents had have been there. Whatever the reason my thoughts are with the family at this sad time and I don't think recrimenations by people who do not know them or the circumstances is appropriate.

Anonymous said...

The poor children, and the poor children that gave birth to them. People's arrogance will always outweigh any education given to them. No matter how many children lose their lives to vicious "pets" people who think they know better will continue to keep guard dogs to inflate their ego, hit their dogs when they misbehave instead of training and leave dogs unattended with children. What a sad world we live in.

Beverley Cuddy said...

It probably does read like a bit of a rant, sorry! That was why I was pleased I'd missed the Indie deadline! But I just know this case will have a huge knock-on effect for all dog owners. I've just read on another forum that the Rottie was caged outside and a dog-loving neighbour had reported the family because the dog was heard crying so much and was apparently was never walked. The family also had a Saluki who was allowed in the house. It is incredibly sad and I know that all involved will be grieving and I have no wish to make things any worse, but the consequences of this avoidable death will be so wide reaching.

bugs said...

My heart goes out to the family of this child, however, I would like to know exactly what happened, and, had there been an adult present, could this tragedy have been avoided? No doubt there will be the usual witch hunt about certain breeds, regardless of their character.

Foxy said...

I find it hard to believe, having 3 children myself why people leave their children with other children to be looked after - even without the dog I would never have expected a 16 year old to look after a baby and two other children too, its just asking for accidents to happen in my opinion. The dog was a rescue and should never have been left without an adult present at all times. When will people learn.

Anonymous said...

i have a german shepherd who was a rescue she has problems, fantastic with who she knows but not with strangers including children
i never put her in a situation where something could happen my 17yr old nephew sometimes looks after my two aged 4 and 9 but never with my 1yr old neice its to much for an adult nevermind a teenager!!
im sorry for the tragedy it is shocking and worrying but you have to take responabilities and dogs dont train themselves

Julie Hill said...

It is a very sad case, but I agree Beverley - people need to be educated about living with dogs. How to train them, how to teach their children to live with them and so on. I stopped recently to talk to a Rottie owner, and initially he ignored me as he thought I was going to give him a hard time. Apparently he has had cars stop to swear at him.
Dogs need to live as part of a pack - or family. They need to bond with and be placed within that pack. Dogs are not biological burglar alarms and should not be kept as such.
Any dog lover can identify with you obvious passion.

Anonymous said...

Dog World this week has a tiny snippet on a Stafford and a Rottie-cross saving a toddler's life after he got into a neighbour's property and then fell into water. There were drag marks in the bank, showing they'd pulled him to land.

No front-page story in the tabloids about how a Rottie-cross and a Stafford saved the toddler's life and rebalancing all the negative stories...


Lorraine said...

I hope that lessons will be learnt from this, but I very much doubt it.
I'm fed up to the back teeth with all the negative Dog related press over recent years. All the statistics on Dog bites & how many have been destroyed due to "attacks". Where are the positive stories ?

Just as children can get jealous if left out of things a Dog can too.
They need to be part of the family (pack),know their place & respect others.

I'd like to see a scheme where children in schools are taught about Dogs & how to respect them.

Ems said...

I have commented on the Victoria Stilwell forum.... my blood pressure needs to drop a little before i say owt else on teh subject..

Beverley Cuddy said...

I've just been reading the Sunday papers and it seems the 6 and 7 year olds were not residents and were just being babysat, too. So perhaps a house full of young kids was a very new experience for the dog? Plus I also read that the grandfather of the baby on the paternal side said that the dog was acquired to stop the house being burgled, so it would seem the dog was a guard.
Tragic story and so many papers now calling for ridiculous solutions.
I'm a mum and a dog owner. I'd never have left my baby with a kid, nor at a house with a strange dog. I'd never leave my child while I went and had dinner down the road on holiday. I wouldn't let him out on the road at night on a quad bike, either. I don't think I'm especially over-protective - just able to see danger! I just don't see why the media thinks dog legislation is the solution to people not taking more sensible care of their own kids. We're a nanny society in lots of other ways - we'll debate whether hitting kids is a bad idea, but does any politicians have a stance on this sort of issue where children are placed in vulnerable situations and older kids are given a ridiculous amount of responsibility. In the Ellie case the only action that stuck was against the dog owner for owning a Pit Bull. Nothing to answer for the adult that allowed dog and child to collide. Curious how reticent the law is to say "perhaps you shouldn't have done that!" Much easier to blame the dog or the breed. It's like olden times where they hanged a monkey for treason. Humans are responsible for creating a safe environment for children.

j said...

I just really believe the average Joe should not be allowed to keep a dog as a guard unless they are fully trained. A proper guard dog only attacks on command and will back off on command immediately. Training any dog takes serious work and commitment but is essential especially for the larger breeds. People's ignorance completely stuns me sometimes. You should never leave any child with any dog alone.
It's a tragic story and one that will no doubt be repeated again and again. It's awful that a whole breed gets demonised by the mistakes of some stupid people.
I completely agree with your article Beverley. We all as dog owners are going to have to bare the brunt.

jontus said...

I was, of course, deeply saddened by this incident. I am against legislation against dog breeds, however, preferring instead to encourage owners of these kind of dogs to take courses with accredited instructors. Not individually, though. Anyone responsible for handling a rotti or guard dog really ought to have considerable dog skills and you only get that with time and often comes from supervised training.

As an instructor, I am often alarmed by how little control people have over their rotti when they start my classes. In the last year I've had three rottweilers which genuinely concerned me because they were so out of order. However, this was entirely owner-related.

I would like to see breeders requiring potential owners to demonstrate their skills and experience before having a dog like this.

Flowerpot said...

I agree that no way should children be left on their own with dogs of any kind. I don't have children but I do have a dog and I'm always perhaps overly vigilant when out with mine where children are concerned. Sadly I doubt if lessons will be learnt - that family sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.

Ems said...

This probably makes me sound very snobbish... but the people who are choosing dogs for the wrong reasons, leaving them in backyards, pub roofs, makeshift garden kennels..

These people often arent fit to have children! Yet they do
so without thought of any consequences, of the responsibility involved.

They get dogs because they want them, there is no thought that 'want' isnt sufficient qualification to 'have'. To compound that further they are NOT interested in having a well trained happy dog, they actively WANT a slavering savage looking beast.

No amount of sensible breeding, dog training, licences, requirements to attend dog training classes.. is going to account for these people.

Think about it - when was the last time you heard of a responsible, caring dog owner, having a horrific accident with their pet.

We already HAVE legislation about putting children in danger.
We already have legislation about providing animals the care they need.

Any number of laws we already have, could have been applied to the last three cases of a child dying in a dog related incident.

Only ONE has, and that was in the case of Ellie Lawrenson, and was nothing to do with her death, but that the dog was an illegal type.

Call me draconian, but its time that the laws we had actually meant something. I dont think that being devastated at the loss of a child automatically absolves one from responsibility!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more Ems!

Society has become a one in which folk decide they 'want' or 'need' a dog...or the latest gadget, whatever...and just go out and get it with no thought or on whether it really IS suitable!
I used to live on the sort of estate where people would regularly breed from their pet rotties and staffies just to make money! I would hear them bragging to their mates on the bus about how they had sold the pups for £400+ and they would actally be laughing about how they had made thousands of pounds profit! You can guarantee they won't have bothered with such things as health checks or even considered the temperament of either parent of the pups! All these idiots are bothered about is making as much money as possible! And as to whether the folks coming to see the pups were suitable owners or not? They didn't care - as long as they handed the cash over they could have any pup they wanted!
Whilst it IS a tragic accident which has happened to this family it probably WAS just a matter of time! As has been said, folks are getting these poor dogs for all the wrong reasons, treating them like dangerous wild animals and then wondering WHY things go wrong!
At the end of the day it's just going to mean more anti-dog legislation!!!

Mina said...

I think a lot of adults here have perhaps forgotten what it was like to be 16. At 16 I was holding down a job, and doing a lot of babysitting, often for more than one child in a family, and I had a job as a 'Mother's Help' for a family with three children, including one baby for a couple of months before I had to return home as my brother had a motorbike accident. I grew up with kids and babies, as my mother fostered and childminded for most of my life. Some 16 year olds are quite capable of looking after children, especially if they are used to it.

Why is the issue suddenly about a 'children looking after children', and 'teenage mums', and the age of the grandparents, which is frankly irrelevant, and discussing how we'd all do things oh so much better for our children instead of being about the dangers of the uneducated and ill-informed being able to get hold of a dog willynilly and treat it like a burglar alarm instead of a living creature?

Untrained, improperly cared for, and the owners probably ignorant of the fact that dogs who come with a past, come with baggage.

Shouldn't the discussions be what should be done to prevent dogs becoming dangerous, rather than make personal comments about a family we'll never know except through a media who carefully chose what they tell us.

Anonymous said...

I,too,feel sorry for the family but you have to ask why did they take on a two year old Rottie in the first place. They clearly weren't suitable owners for the breed. I know of several Rotties which are wonderful chid friendly dogs but as with any dog you can't predict what they will do in every circumstance.
The sad thing now is that many Rotties will be passed on to rescue centres because their owners feel they can no longer trust them. Only the day after it was reported by one rescue that they had taken in 6 dogs & had to turn away a further 9. All, no doubt, family pets who hadn't put a foot wrong.